And we come to the final planned chapter of the story. I thank all of you who have stayed with me during my learning period of becoming an amateur writer. If you aren't aware, as of 8/9/16, I've gone back and polished up the three earlier chapters. So if you want to go back and do a bit of rereading, than let me know if there are any big mistakes I missed.
With all that over, please enjoy my favorite chapter in this story. It's time for Dusk to make some new friends with the gods of Norse Mythology. Enjoy…
If someone were to ask you what home is, you might give them the simple answer of, "Home is where you hang your hat" or "Home is where the heart is". In my opinion home isn't any of those things. Home isn't something that can't be explained with a single phrase, it's never that simple. Home is what you make it out to be. It doesn't have to be a house, city, or even a country. It can be an ideal, something you live by and will never stray from. I guess you could say home is something familiar, and from my experience, you never feel safer than with what's familiar.
So what do you do when you're taken from what you know and thrown into a place that isn't just unfamiliar, but completely foreign in every way but the basic cornerstones that all life is built off of. My gaze wanders over the valley before me. Water, grass, trees, bushes, rocks, and the moon. All familiar bases of life, but at the same time completely different. The country felt wild, untamed, and dangerous. But at the same time exotic, lively, and free.
But it's not my home. I don't recognize the mountain ranges surrounding me, the crisp air upon my tongue, nor the consolations shining down upon my still form. All of it just felt…different, I can't explain it. Tearing my gaze from the horizon, I check over my person to take stock of what I have on me.
My armor in its entirety covers my body with the exception of fingerless gloves and a slit between my mask and hood to see through. Reaching into my small hip pouch, I find all my tools for thieving with my two daggers father gave me strapped to my lower back. Also inside the pouch were the coins, gems, and jewelry I had "liberated" before appearing…wherever here is. Before I could even begin pondering how I ended up here, the earth began shaking every couple seconds, as if a large being was walking near me.
Curiosity getting the better of me, I climbed the small hill that rested to my right and fell to my stomach once I reached the top. The sight that greeted me made me reconsider my definition of "large being". From my interactions with Zeus, Erebus, Ares, and all the other Gods made me think large being was something just several feet taller than the average man. But now, the colossal…monstrosity walking across the valley, whose strides reached several hundred feet in length made me realize just what large meant. The giant who I know saw was male was several hundred feet tall and, to be perfectly honest, wasn't the best looking guy around. His face was in a permanent scowl with ridges, bumps, and craters littering it. Its clothes were a patchwork of hundreds of different animals and its club looked like it was some up-rooted tree about two dozen feet in length. Overall a very crude, and horrifying person, if he could even be called that.
Suddenly, a horn broke the silence which caused the giant to spin around at a speed that nothing that large has any right moving at to face a mountain range on the far side of him. Growling, the giant raised his club before taking off at a sprint roaring at the top of his lungs in some language I couldn't discern. Annoyingly due to its position, the giants back block my view of whatever had blown the horn. But even though I couldn't see whoever it was, I could definitely hear him. Laughing at the top of his lungs, I just managed to make out a figure in the distance as he flew into the air to throw something when the giant lifted his club to smash whoever it was.
The object the man threw hit the giant square in the jaw and knocked it on its back but didn't alter course and flew towards me. Eyes widening with the realization that whatever was heavy enough to knock over a several hundred foot being was heading right for me. Jumping to my feet, I lept backwards right as the object smashed into the ground right where I had been laying scarcely a second before. The shock of the impact made me lose my footing and fall over right as the man landed next to the crater after jumping after whatever it was he threw.
Coughing due to the raised dust, I wiped my eyes and tried to peer through the cloud in front of me. Once the dust settled I was finally able to make out the figure standing before me. Standing at seven foot four, the man reached down and lifted the object from the crater. Now getting a clear view of the object, I realized it was a beautifully crafted hammer suited for battle. Sizing at a foot long by half a foot wide, the hammer made a formidable weapon.
Realizing I was sitting at his feet, the man dropped his hammer onto the ground with a loud thud before he started talking boisterously in some language I couldn't comprehend.
I held my hands up to show I wasn't a threat but before I could start explaining myself, we felt the ground shake again. Turning around, I saw two things I didn't want to see. First was that the giant was getting to his feet groggily, but angry. The second thing was the fact that a second giant of smaller size, this one measuring only twenty or thirty feet in height, was making its way towards us with its axe already raised. I say 'I didn't want to see' because the man in front of me seemed to be ecstatic for some reason. Throwing his head back in laughter. He turned to me and patted me on the back (Which almost knocked me to the ground) before grabbing the back of my chest guard and threw me straight at the second giant.
It took me all of a split-second to realize that I had just been thrown at a giant as tall as a building by a man that could pass as a second Heracles in every way but looks. Due to the fact that the man wasn't subtle about his act, the giant I was heading straight for positioned his axe just so I'd impact it, and going as fast as I was would mean I'd probably just be cleaved in two instantly. Adrenaline pumping and scarcely seconds to spare, I grabbed my daggers and very quickly threw the one in my left hand straight at the giant. Not having expected me to do anything, the giant couldn't move in time. Not even two seconds before I reached the giant's axe, my dagger impacted into the flesh between two of his knuckles which caused him to drop his axe and opened his mouth to scream in pain. But before he could even utter a sound I spun in midair and sunk my other dagger right into the giant's throat. Spinning around the giant's neck sharply due to my dagger stopping me from moving past it, I nearly cut the giant's head from his shoulders due to the speed I had been moving at.
Collapsing with a wet gurgle, the giant died before he even hit the ground. Breathing heavily and rolling of the giant's corpse, I slumped to the ground and leaned my back against it with my head bowed as I sucked in air. Looking back up, I was just in time to see the man call down lightning from the heavens and strike the colossal giant with a resounding crack! The giant convulsed violently as a billion volts rushed through its body. After a few seconds, the pressure and lightning caused the giant's head to explode. Quickly shielding my eyes as blood, flesh, and a myriad of other things rained down upon the valley.
When the shower of gore ceased, I opened my eyes and immediately gagged at the sight and smell of the gore hit me. Suddenly being hauled to my feet, I was spun around and came face to face with the man who threw me. Raising his hammer into he yelled out happily, "Það var mikil barátta!"
I waved my hands in front of me, "Wo Wo Wo slow down big guy, I don't understand you."
The man laughed, "THY SPEAKS THE MORTAL TONGUE! I SAID, THAT TWAS A GREAT BATTLE! WHAT ART THOU DOING HERE MORTAL?"
I raised an eyebrow, "What do you mean 'mortal tongue'? Everyone, including Gods and men speak Greek."
The man laughed again, "THOU ART EITHER CONFUSED OR DIM, BUT THOU SLAYS GIANTS SO THOU ART MY FRIEND!"
I chuckled, "Exactly like Heracles. Colossal strength, friendly, and a dimwit."
The big man threw his head back and laughed even harder, "THY MUST BE MISTAKEN! NO MERE MORTAL COULD COMPETE WITH THOR, THE MIGHTY GOD OF THUNDER IN A CONTEST OF STRENGTH!"
I smirked underneath my mask, "I never said he was mortal, he's the greatest son of Zeus."
The now named Thor twirled his hammer, "WHO IS IT THOU SPEAKEST OF?"
My brain screeched to a halt, "You're a God aren't you?"
Thor smiled widely, showing me a perfect set of teeth and nodded his head, "AS I SAID, I AM THE MIGHTY GOD OF THUNDER THOR!"
I started to get worried, "S-So you've never heard of Zeus?" I received a shake of the head, "Poseidon? Hades? Hera?" No, no, and no. "HOW IS THAT POSSIBLE? HOW CAN YOU NOT KNOW OF THE LEADER OF THE GODS, HIS BROTHERS, OR HIS WIFE?"
The growled slightly, "Start speaking sense lad. My father Odin is the leader of us, my mother's name is Frigga, and he has no brothers that go by the names Poseidon and Hades."
I held my hands up as I took a step back, "I don't mean to be insulting, I'm just very confused. Where am I?"
Thor pointed at the mountain range he had come from, "Those mountains separate Asgard, the home of the Gods from Jotunheim, the land of the Giants which is where we currently are."
I shook my head, "Those names mean nothing to me, " I slowly took in my surroundings, "where in the nine levels of Hades and I?"
Thor stoked his beard, "If thou were a God I'd take thee to my father and find if thy speak the truth, but alas only the Gods may enter Asgard."
I shrugged, "Wouldn't be the first time I snuck into the domain of a God. What are the requirements?"
Thor looked at me like I had grown a second head, "Thy must have have godly blood flowing through thy veins."
I bit my lip and stared at the ground in thought. After a few seconds my head shot back up with a grin, "What if I'm only partly mortal. As in I have one godly parent and one mortal?"
Thor looked confused, "Prithee, I doth not understand. None of mine fellow Gods couple with mortals."
I shook my head, "I never said they did. Please Thor, take me to your father and I'll explain everything." When he didn't move from his spot and continued to stare I sighed, "Look at it this way, if I can't go in I won't be able to get in. But if I can then that will be proof enough that I'm have, at least partially, godly blood in my veins."
Thor continued to stare for several seconds before smiling widely, "WHY NOT? Thy speaks sense, if thee is not of godly blood then Heimdall with not let thee pass the Bifrost!" He then suddenly threw me on his back, "HOLD ON MY FRIEND! IT WILL BE A QUICK JOURNEY IF WE TRAVEL MY WAY!"
Before I could even refuse his offer Thor twirled his hammer extremely fast before he let go of it. Normally this wouldn't be a problem, but since his hand was through the lather loop we were unfortunately…carried with it.
After several heart-wrenching minutes of flight, Thor landed on what a bridge of what appeared to be made of a solid rainbow. Thor set me down and I immediately fell to my shaky knees. Holding my stomach, I looked up at Thor with a glare and a barely suppressed groan, "Heracles at least had the decency to warn me before doing something like that."
Someone burst out into laughter behind me, "Thor has always lacked foresight but he means well, don't take any offense mortal." I got shakingly to my feet and turned around. Before me stood a tall, dark skinned man with golden eyes and golden armor. In his hands he held the hilt of a beautiful golden colored greatsword with the point pressed against the ground. He put a hand on my shoulder to steady me, "Welcome to the Bifrost, what is it thy seeks?"
I took a deep breath and swallowed my stomach that had been forcefully thrown into my throat, "I seek counsel from your Lord Odin. I, with no idea how, find myself in quite the odd predicament here."
Heimdall didn't say anything and just stared into the shining sapphires that were my eyes with his own golden gaze. After a few seconds he turned to Thor smirking, "He speaks the truth Thor, a half blood he truthfully is."
Thor scratched his head in confusion, "But if that is true, then who among us sired a son with a mortal?"
Heimdall shook his head, "Don't you worry about that, it was none who call these halls home."
Thor shrugged, "What my brothers do in private is their business, I was just curious." He then patted me on the back (Again, nearly knocked me over), "LET US CARRY ON! I WISH TO GO CELEBRATE WITH MY LOVELY SIF AND THE OTHERS!" He charged off in a dead sprint, completely forgetting that while I was very quick for mortal standards, I couldn't keep up with him.
Heimdall chuckled, "I will call one of the others to show you to Odin," he blew a small horn at his side before starring in the direction Thor had ran off in, "though it is odd for Thor just ran off like that. Especially when it's one of his new 'friends' he's leaving behind."
I raised a brow, "How do you know he called me friend?"
Heimdall chuckled, "I heard him call thee such." At my look of shock he pointed at his ears, "My hearing and sight are second to none, plus Thor isn't really the quietest person."
I chuckled behind my mask, "It's scary how similar he is to my friend Heracles. Both have colossal strength, an overly cheery personality, utter loyalty, and a complete and utter idiot."
I heard a loud laugh come from behind me again, "That he is. My brother is one of the kindest hearts to walk these halls, as long as thy aren't giant that is."
Heimdall and I turned towards the voice and found a handsome looking man clothed in beautiful but simple clothes with flowing blond hair that fell to his neck walking towards us. Heimdall raised his hand and called out, "Ho Balder, I should have known it be thee to answer my call."
The now named Balder shrugged, "It just didn't seem right to leave our first mortal guest to Asgard alone out here without a guide, it wouldn't be proper."
Heimdall sighed, "I see you still have that heart of gold as always Balder." He then turned to me, "Balder here will show you to Odin," then with a slight bow, "enjoy your stay in Asgard half-blood." With that he turned his back to us and resumed standing guard.
Feeling a hand on my shoulder, I turned my head to find Balder smiling kindly at me, "Follow me mortal and I shall show you to my father and the others."
By this point my eyebrows were one more surprise away from levitating above my head, "Y-you're not a servant…you're one of Odin's sons!" I quickly got to a knee and bowed my head, "I apologize for any offense I may of caused milord, I did not realize!"
Receiving no answer, I cautiously glanced up to find Balder looking at me all confused, "Why doth thou kneel before me? I have done thee no service besides lead you to my father."
I shook my head, "You are a God but I didn't realize it, so I'm giving you the respect you deserve."
Suddenly I felt Balder pull me to my feet, softly of course, "Don't bow to me mortal, I haven't done anything to deserve it. I do not know what thy has been told about us, but we are not an unwelcoming kind and treat guests as they deserve to be treated."
I stared at him in confusion, "But-"
"You two better get going before Odin sends another to find what has kept you." Interrupted Heimdall who still had his back to us.
Balder instantly began fretting, "Oh my goodness you're correct my friend, everyone must be wondering where we are. I did tell them I'd return shortly with our guest." He then turned back to me, "We must hurry, but do remember that we are an understanding group of people. Speak truthfully and thy will have not to fear from my father." He started walking away and motioned for me to follow, "Now come along, we have to make haste to make up for our tardiness."
I couldn't even voice an objection to any dishonor shown to the Gods before I was forced to run after Balder due to the fact that he started jogging back the…city. I couldn't believe my eyes. Standing before me was a magnificent Kingdom that could easily rival Mount Olympus. The buildings along with many other objects were constructed out of a shrinking gold and silver metal decorated with reds, blues, yellows, oranges, and many other colors. The walkways were made of perfectly carved stones lined with trees, bushes, and to my utter amazement, stalls filled with food, trinkets, and other odds n' ends. Even more astounding though were to the people filling said stalls, streets, and buildings. I wanted to stop Balder and ask what this place really was but he told me to hold any questions I had for my father, though he quickly finished with a fierce amount of apologizing. That alone keeps throwing me for loop even without my surroundings factoring in. Why in the name of Zeus is the son of the head God acting like he kicked my dog and is trying to make up for it when it should be I whose bowing to him.
After several minutes of running, Balder and I arrived at some stables outside the city walls. Grabbing two horses, a mare and a stallion, and handed me the reins to the mare, "Thy knows how to ride I presume?" I nodded my head numbly, still shocked over all I had witnessed, I mean hell, we aren't even inside the palace yet! Balder smiled as we mounted our steeds, as if he knew just what had me so silent, "Tiss a beautiful sight, is it not?" Again, I numbly nodded my head causing Balder to laugh good-naturedly, "Then let us be off, it will take us several minutes to reach the palace." With that we spurred our mounts onward as we continued our ascent into the shining city known as Asgard.
After several minute of riding, Balder and I reached the summit of the last hill before coming to a stop. Before us stretched a long bridge that spanned a glistening lake several hundred feet below. From the bridge poured a waterfall every two-hundred feet or so, each shimmering in the setting sun as the water fell freely into the lake below. Spurring our horses forward once again, we grew nearer and nearer to the extraordinary palace at the end of the bridge. A minute or so from reaching the palace, Balder and I looked up at the cry of a Falcon that sounded above us.
Apparently recognizing the bird, Balder waved at it as it descended to the ground. Landing on its talons, the bird grew from its feathery state into one of the most beautiful women I had ever lay eyes upon. She was clad in a pearly white dress adorned with gold linens that hugged her figure. Her wavy hair was crimson, nearly blood red and fell to the back of her knees. I jumped off my horse and bowed out of habit, "Milady."
Looking confused, the woman glanced at Balder who shrugged before raising my head and spoke softly, "Thee need not bow young man, though it is a kind gesture."
Before I could even start on how dishonoring it was to not bow I heard Balder laugh, "Don't bother Freya, it seems our guest has been brought up to act as if we are entitled to worship for no other reason than existing."
Freya looked back down at me who had bowed my head again. Sighing, she turned back to Balder, "I guess we will have to show him otherwise at later date, Odin just sent me out to find you." She then put her hands on her hips, "What took you two so long anyways?"
Balder looked sheepish, "I may of gotten caught up talking with Heimdall and our guest when I first reached the Bifrost."
Freya raised an eyebrow and smirked, "I'm sure it wasn't intentional," she then motioned for us to follow her, "anyways, we must get going. Odin and Frigga have been waiting."
My head immediately jerked up from where it had found in new home in staring at the ground. Pulling my horse reigns, I offered the saddle to the goddess before me, "Please take my horse milady, I would be honored to lead it for you."
Freya almost looked like she pitied me but then smiled sweetly, "A gracious offer, I thank thee." Accepting my offered hand, Freya sat down sidesaddle and we made the rest of the way to the palace. During our ride, Freya looked down at my armored form, "Pray tell, what is thy name?"
I looked over my shoulder and bowed my head slightly, "Dusk milady."
Freya smiled, "Tiss a beautiful name, dusk is my favorite time of the day. The sun sets and casts its comforting glow all over Yggdrasil with shades of gold, purple, red, and orange."
I nodded my head, "It is beautiful indeed, though I'm more partial to a full moon in the middle of the night."
Freya cocked her head to the side, "Why is that, might I ask?"
I shrugged, "What can I say, shadows comfort me."
Freya looked at me oddly for that, "What do you find comforting about sha-"
She was interrupted by a guard that had met us before the grand door, "I apologize for the interruption Lady Freya, but all the Lords and Ladies are waiting for you three."
Freya nodded her head, "Do not feel the need to apologize for doing you job, I do admit I got a little to curious for the time." She then turned back to me, "I will see you again in a few minutes mortal, until then."
I bowed again, much to her and Balder's amusement, "Farewell Lady Freya, until the next time." Handing the reigns to a waiting guard, he took Freya and Balder's horse in a separate direction. The guard that met us held out his hand, "I must ask that you relinquish all weapons until we are told otherwise sir."
I nodded my head and have them my daggers and pouch, "I understand."
Balder, opening the door for us, led the way to the throne room, "As I said earlier, my father is a wise, honest man. Speak the truth and thy will have not to fear from him."
I breathed deeply, "Yeah, just meeting with a man that could be the equivalent to Zeus, no pressure."
Balder glanced over his shoulder, "Is this Zeus the man that has made you so afeard of the Gods?"
I shook my head, "Not exactly, but my explanation will make no sense until you all hear on how I got here."
Balder stared at me for a few seconds before shrugging, "I do not know what thy speaks of, but I'm sure it's quite the tale." He then stopped before a set of double doors that were about fifteen feet tall and turned fully towards me, "When the doors open go inside. I must be enter through a different door." He then put his hand on my shoulder to reassure me, "Just remember what I said, speak truthfully and show no hostile intent and you'll be fine." He patted my shoulder before walking back down the hall a ways before taking a turn out of sight.
I turned back to the imposing doors and took several deep breaths. Thor, Heimdall, Balder, and Freya had been nothing but pleasant, if not a little strange for gods, but my intentions are honest and heart pure so I have nothing to fear. Then why does it feel like my heart is trying to punch its way out of my chest. I closed my eyes and lifted my hand to my left shoulder to run my fingers over the silver crest that adorning it. Feeling the ridges that depicted a Nightingale reaching for the moon with its wings brought a sense of comfort to my mind. No matter what happens, my father will either keep me safe or bring me home if my time came. Feeling my heart slow, my eyes raised as the doors began slowly opening before me.
Steeling myself, I boldly stepped into the room only to stop short not five feet into it. Having expected a circular room that was lined with chairs that would be filled by beings that could crush me with a flick of their wrist, I was shocked to find myself in a long dining hall. Two large fires were roaring on the left and right side of the hall that lit the entire room to show a long table laden with food and drink. But what astounded me even more was the fact that their were no cold, hard gazes sent my way. From the moment I stepped into the room, every pair of eyes (And a single eye of course, can't forget Odin :D) stared at me yes, but with curiosity more than anything.
The people sitting at the table couldn't of been or more diverse group of people. There were men as solid as thousand year old oaks, and as tall as one is thick. Men who were more slim, but looked just as imposing in completely different ways. Woman who looked just as imposing as the men, but in an elegant way. And women who were more beautiful as the setting sun. But one man caught my eye over all the others. Standing to his full height at the far end of the table stood a man that looked ancient, but still held a look that made him seem like he could fight just as well as any other in the hall. With the golden eyepatch and scars, he looked like a fierce warrior, but at the same retained the look of a kindly grandfather, one who you could tell anything to without fear of unfair punishment.
Realizing I was just staring at Odin and the other Gods, I quickly got to my knees and bowed until my forehead pressed against the floor, "My Lords and Ladies, I cannot apologize enough for making you wait on my behalf."
"He's as polite as you said Balder, if not a little odd, but that can easily be looked over." Came an authoritative but wise voice, "Raise up Dusk and let us get a good look at you." Getting to my feet, I unknowingly kept my gaze glued to the floor, "Look up and face us lad." My gaze shot up, missing the amused tone the voice carried. Looking straight into Odin's one-eyed gaze, I waited as he looked for something only known to him. "Tell me, what were you doing in Jotunheim where Thor found you?"
I nervously shrugged my shoulders, "In all honesty milord, I do not know."
A lankier man with long black hair that reached his shoulders who was wearing green robes scoffed, "I find that hard to believe stranger, how can you not know how you found yourself in the land of the giants."
Before I could even defend myself Thor spoke out, "Watch your tongue Loki, my new friend here killed giants with me and I won't have him scorned."
As Loki was about to lash back at Thor, Odin held out his hand, "Quiet, both of you. Loki, you will not treat a guest with such derision and I shall be the one to decide on whether he's telling the truth, not you." He then turned back to me, "I can tell thy speaks the truth. Come, sit and tell us your tale."
I froze, not believing that a God just offered me to eat with them, "I-I-I-"
The women next to Odin shook her head amusement, "Truly thy has been taught to fear us. Don't be afraid Dusk. Please, sit and eat while we talk. We find it is much easier to discuss important topics over a meal."
I stared wordlessly at the Gods in front of me before taking an empty seat that was left for me between Thor and Freya. As I sat down and looked at the glorious food in front of me, a one armed man chuckled, "Thy will have to remove the mask if thee wishes to feast with us."
Freya looked at me and tilted her head, "I agree with Tyr, is there a reason thy has hidden your face this entire time Dusk?"
I then realized I was still in my armor. I bowed my head again, "I apologize, I often forget I'm wearing it sometimes." I pulled back the hood and lowered the mask revealing my ashen gray hair, pale skin, and lightly glowing sapphire eyes.
Balder chuckled from behind his cup as the women next to him tilted her head in confusion, "Prithy, what hast thy been told to make thee so afeard of us?"
Balder wrapped an arm around the women, "He's been asked that question many times now Nanna, but he keeps saying he will need to explain why he's here for us to understand."
Tyr raised his cup towards me, "Then let us hear it, I am curious to see who is so afraid of us to the point they teach it to their young."
I bit my lip as I thought on how to explain to them I was from a different plane with completely different Gods and customs on how to treat them. I nodded my head in thought before looking over at Odin, "Will I be able to explain myself fully before calling me insane and thrown into Hades Fields of Punishment?"
Odin raised an eyebrow, "I promise thee we will hear you out, WITHOUT scorn." He added that last part while looking at Loki he raised his hands in submission.
I took a deep breath before starting, "I'm not from here."
Frigga slowly nodded her head, "We know that, what do you mean?"
I shook my head, "No, I mean I'm not from this plane whatsoever. Before talking with Thor I had never hear the names Odin, Frigga, Thor, or Loki. I've never heard of Titans still roaming the earth. I had never heard of Jotunheim nor Asgard, let alone Yggdrasil. But most of all, I never had heard utterance of Gods so hospitable that they allow people to live freely in their heavenly home."
The hall became silent as all but one stared at me like I had suddenly grown three more heads. Loki wordlessly stood up to all the guards but a commanding voice stopped him, "Sit down Loki!" We all turned to stare at Odin, "We promised the boy we'd let him explain and let him explain we shall. We do not go back on our word. If we do then our words mean nothing." Turning back to me he nodded, "Go ahead and tell us how you arrived in Jotunheim lad, you shan't be stopped by nothing except honest questions."
I bowed my head in thanks, "I was doing a job my father challenged me with. I was to sneak back into Hades and find a soul that had been wrongfully taken there."
"What is Hades, may I ask thee?" Stated Balder.
I thought for a moment, "I take it there is an afterlife for mortals after they die correct?"
Odin nodded his head, "That there is, in fact," he nodded at Loki, "Loki's daughter Hel takes the souls of the evil and damned."
I nodded my head, "Well from where I come from Hades is the God who rules over the Underworld or Hades, whatever you wish to call it. No matter what you have done in your life, you will end up there."
A lovely women with marvelous golden hair next to Thor spoke up, "How can the souls of the evil and righteous go to the same place? What about punishment for evil deeds."
The one-armed man looked at me closely, "I take it the evil go to those 'Fields of Punishment' you mentioned earlier while the good go somewhere else correct?"
I nodded my head, "Yes, the souls of men and women who committed evil go the Fields of Punishment for eternity and their retribution depends on what their crime was."
At that many of my listeners gasped in shock, especially the gentle Freya, "Don't they get a seconds chance after being punished for a time?"
I shook my head, much to her dismay, "Sadly no, they do not. Take into account that only the truly evil go there. Those who didn't do any good or bad go to the Fields of Asphodel where they rest for eternity. Though if anything, it's not really paradise, more like REALLY boring. They have nothing to do there."
Odin stroked his beard, "That seems like a punishment in itself. Ordinary they might have been, it does seem cruel. Though at least most could spend eternity with those they love."
I shook my head, shocking my audience again, "When you pass into the afterlife, you wade through several rivers, one of which takes all of your memories."
Odin just stared blankly at me while Freya looked to be on the verge of tears, "How could any God do such a thing?" She then looked a little hopeful, "But what of the righteous?"
I nodded my head, "They go to paradise," Freya smiled at this, "but to reach it they must wade through the rivers making lose their memories as well." And thus the smile was gone as soon as it appeared.
Thor anger had been slowly rising with each passing second before finally breaking free, "PEOPLE SHOULDN'T BE FORCED TO SUFFER SUCH A FATE! WHO DARES TO PLAY WITH LIVES LIKE THIS!"
Every head turned to me as I called out to stop Thor, "Even if you could get to them, you wouldn't win."
Loki scoffed again, though this time it wasn't necessarily at me, "We are Gods, we would at least stand as much of a chance as they have against us!"
I just stared blankly at Loki before turning to look at Odin, "Tell me, can you die?"
Odin nodded his head, "Yes, though Idunn's apples keep us young, or whatever age we choose."
I sighed, "Then you wouldn't win. The Gods of my plane are completely immortal. They don't age and they don't permanently die."
Thor grabbed his hammer from his where it lay at his feet, "We shall see about that! I will find these demons disguised as Gods and grind them into the dirt like the scum they truly are!"
As Thor was about to storm out of the room, Odin called out in a booming voice, "Sit down Thor, you heard the boy. Not even counting the fact that they reside in a different plane they are immortal," he then turned to look at me, "and don't speak harshly about all the Gods from the boys plane, I'm sure not all of them are evil."
I nodded my head, "Yes, while each one has flaws, most are kind or fair…most of the time." Frigga sighed as I said 'most of the time' making me shrug, "They get bored, and while I'm not going to defend their actions, I can understand them. But while we speak of the Gods let us talk about some things I have found similar to you my lords and ladies."
A man who looked like a male Freya tilted his head, "How can you compare us to them?"
I raised my heads in defense, "I meant to disrespect milord, all I was going to say is that there are some similarities in hierarchy and responsibilities." I then motioned at Odin, "Take your Lord Odin example. He is comparable to my Lord Zeus just in position, both lead the Gods well and justly." I then motioned at Frigga, "Milady, what is your duty?"
Frigga smiled, "I am the patron of marriage and motherhood."
I nodded my head, "Then you're exactly like Hera. She is the wife of Zeus and has the same responsibilities."
Frigga 'hmed' as I pointed at Thor smiling, "Or take Thor. He is almost exactly like my good friend Heracles. Both have strength like no other, have a love for battle, a heart of gold, and neither are the brightest person to ever walk beneath the sun."
Thor laughed, "I would very much like to meet this friend of yours, he sounds like he would be fun to fight with!"
Sif looked horrified. She couldn't even begin to imagine an almost exact copy of her husband running around causing mayhem. She then realized something, "So his name is Heracles. Does that mean he is the son of this Zeus and Hera then?"
I paused, trying to figure out to tell her that Heracles was a bastard child, "Uuuuuummmm, no."
Sif looked confused, "So his parents just happen to name him after your Lady Hera then?"
I bit my lip in thought, "Again…not exactly. He is Zeus's son…but not Hera's."
Frigga looked appalled, "Zeus slept with a women when married to another!"
I hesitantly nodded my head, "Immortal they may be, but they have a great amount of human qualities to them as well."
Odin had remained silent up until now, "I must admit, my opinion of your planes Gods is not growing for the better. I of course mean no offense to you."
I shrugged while sighed, "You're not offending me, none of them are my parents."
Freya took my bait for changing the topic, "Who are thy parents?"
I smiled, "In the beginning of my plane there was nothing but chaos, but at some point out of this chaos came Night and Erebus, the Lord of Darkness and Shadows. They fell in love and from that love came Love, Light, and then Gaea, the earth."
Freya looked confused, "How can someone birth a world, it sounds extremely odd?"
Odin chuckled, "Our creation isn't any less odd dear Freya. Don't forget my grandfather came from a block of ice and the giants came from Ymir's sweat."
Loki snickered, "Certainly was an odd start for you Aesir."
I raised an eyebrow, "Are you not related to anyone here Loki."
Loki shook his head, "Nay, my parents were giants but abandoned me due to my small size. Odin and the others took me in when I was found."
I bowed my head slightly, "Then I apologize for bringing it up."
He waved me off, "Doesn't offed me, but carry on, I'm finding this to be greatly amusing."
I nodded in thanks, "Well anyway, Gaea and the others were not born, they just kinda…appeared. But when Erebus and Night did couple, Night gave birth to Ether, the heavenly light and to day, the earthly light. Then, by herself, Night created Doom, Fate, Death, Sleep, Dreams, Nemesis, and all things that dwell in the darkness haunting mankind.
"Why would she create such things, they only bring pain and misery?" Interrupted Odin.
I shrugged, "Neither my father nor I know why she did such a thing, but death and sleep aren't necessarily bad things."
Freya's eyes lit up, "Thy parents are Erebus and Night, are they not?"
"Not quite," I said, "Erebus is my father but I know not who my mother is."
Balder cocked his head to the side, "So your father raised you himself, a difficult job to be sure."
I shook my head, "I've been on my own from as early as I can remember."
Kind hearted Freya couldn't help but let a few tears stream down her cheeks, "How could he just leave a child to fend for itself?"
I shrugged, "I don't know, but most likely he couldn't just stop being one of the oldest Gods to raise a child, but I don't hold any ill-will against him. I wouldn't be who I am today without the trials I had to endure while growing up." I then smiled warmly, "What I do know is that he does care for me. It wasn't until after I met him did I realize why I was able to get away from guards and angry stall owners so easily. Whenever I stepped into a shadow it sort of wrapped itself around me, making me much more difficult to see. While it doesn't make me invisible, if I mix that together the skills I've learned and my armor enchantments then I become as close to it as any mortal can be."
Freya smiled, "That is why you said you preferred a Moonlit night over Dusk. You feel safe and secure while within shadows embrace." As I nodded my head Freya realized I had left out an important bit out of the last part, "What of thy mother?"
I shrugged, "I do not know. I never knew her and have yet to ask my father what became of her in fear that I might bring up unpleasant memories."
Freya nodded her head, looking quite upset over my lack of upbringing all the while Odin had been staring at my armor with interest, "Tiss fine craftsmanship, I can tell. Even if it is a little less flashy than we are accustomed to."
I knocked my fist against my chest plate, "Yes, I noticed you all preferred more ornate and flashy symbols of power. Though it is odd for a God, even in my plane, to have such a subtle taste. Others like Zeus or Poseidon have the Lighting Bolt and Trident as symbols respectively. My father just doesn't care for being extravagant or important after so much time having passed. And while he may not be directly worshiped anymore, the other Gods know their place and know they cannot defy him or Night." I then stood up and pulled my mask and hood back into place, "The gauntlets steady my hands and increase my grip. The boots silent my footfalls to near nothing. The leggings and cuirass increase my stamina to something no normal mortal can ever hope to achieve. And lastly the hood and mask shroud my identity to all but the gods."
Tyr's eyes narrowed slightly, "Sounds like the armor of an assassin."
All eyes turned to me but were surprised to see a slight burning anger resonating within my eyes, "I mean no disrespect milord but first of all, thief, not assassin. Second, don't judge something you know nothing about. When I was a child I never stole for anything more than personal survival and never from the poor. Then after meeting my father I only steal from the pompous rich and scammers of my home and give to the poor, never keeping more than I need for food and tools."
With my adrenaline rushing out of my system just as quickly as it came, I sat back down, mentally kicking myself for doing such a stupid act. Much to my surprise, Thor stood up and burst out laughing, "I LIKE MY NEW FRIEND! HE MAY BE AFRAID OF US BUT HE STANDS FOR WHAT HE BELIEVES WHEN THE CALL SOUNDS!"
Sif giggled behind her hand, "Sit down my love and be quiet, we are indoors entertaining a guest." She then turned to me smiling, "Thy must of sprouted a great amount of courage to overcome thy fear of us."
Licking parched lips as I lowered my hood and mask, I took a long draught of wine from my cup. Setting it down after draining nearly half, I stared owlishly at my plate, "Not courage, adrenaline, and it wore out very quickly to be replaced by fear once again."
Odin smirked as he chewed a hunk of roasted meat. Swallowing, he wiped his mouth clean before staring me in the eye sternly, "We have said many-a-time to not be afraid of us Dusk. I can see thy is telling the truth and have shared tales which the likes we have never heard before. If anything thy is now an honored friend of Asgard and always will be."
Thor, Freya, and Balder immediately raised their cups, "Here here." They were quickly echoed by everyone else, including Loki, "Here here!"
Odin then held his arms wide, "Then let us feast and revel in tales of glory, honor, and fortune!"
We all raised our glasses unified, "HERE HERE!" And thus, feast we did.
For many hours we feasted, drank, and told tales of our ventures. Thor told us the tale of how he and Tyr stole a large cauldron from Tyr's father for mead. Freya told us the story of how a giant tricked the gods into making her marrying him. So when the time came to send Freya away, they dressed Thor up in her stead. Thor took over here telling us how he drank and feasted with the giants before slaughtering them all with Mjölnir. And I told stories of all my adventures including meeting my father as a young boy (Though I didn't know it at the time), my trial by Mesperyian, and finally my quest with Jason, Heracles, and Atalanta for The Golden Fleece.
After many hours the feast had died down until many of the Gods had to excuse themselves to attend to their duties. First to go was Sif, quickly followed by Thor, and while they thought they were being sneaky I knew that look Sif sent Thor before walking out anywhere. Next was Loki who stated he was growing bored and was going to find someone to mess with (We all, without knowing that the others were doing the same, sent a silent prayer to Sif and Thor to get away quickly before Loki caught up). This kept up until it was just Lord Odin, Lady Frigga and I remaining.
As I was about to ask what I should do, Frigga stood up which drew my attention to her, "I shall retire for the night and leave you two to talk, I'm sure you have important matters to discuss." With a final goodnight, she slipped out through a side door and out of sight.
Hearing a content sigh, I turned back to Odin who was smiling at the door, "Do thee have a woman in thy life young Dusk?"
I scratched the back of my head awkwardly, "I guess you could say that. The huntress I spoke of earlier, Atalanta, is…in all honesty I don't know what we are. My tale of The Golden Fleece only just ended a week ago, so we aren't necessarily together."
Odin smiled, "Do thee wish it to be so?"
I nodded my head, "Yes, I do, but I will just have to wait and see where things go in the coming months and years." My mood then turned somber, "That's if I am ever to find my way back."
The warm, cheery feeling that had filled the hall for hours was quickly replaced by one of sadness. Standing to his full height of nearly eight feet, Odin motioned for me to follow him. Standing up, we both walk over to the large stone balcony that was connected to the dining hall. As we looked out of Asgard I couldn't help but feel awed as a inner peace fall over me. If I thought the City of the Aesir was beautiful before, now it was truly gorgeous. Fires throughout the city lit every building, street, walkway, story, and garden to just the right amount that you could still tell it was night but there was a comforting glow all around you. But the sight that stole my breath away more than anything else was the night sky. Crossing from black to deep blue to dark purple and filled to the brim with twinkling stars, it was truly a sight to behold, but the crowning achievement of this night's sky was the moon. Larger than any I've ever seen, it cast a pale glow over all of Asgard.
"Tiss beautiful, is it not?" Said Odin to my right.
I numbly nodded my head, "The home of the Gods is always a sight rivaled by no other. The only place that can compete is my father's domain, but it's beauty is a completely different type. Your home is calm, welcoming, and peaceful. And while my father's is that as well, it still holds a slight feeling of danger, and I love it." I then turned to him, "You rule over one of the most amazing kingdoms to ever reign."
Odin smiled softly as he stared out into his home, "Aye, that I do and I would do anything to protect it." He then pointed out, thought the gate and down the Bifrost, "Over yonder, far to the roots of Yggdrasil reside the Norns. Three giantess who know the fate of all things."
I tilted my head to the side, "They sound like your equivalent to my plane's Fates. They are three women who serve the same purpose."
Odin 'hmed' at that, "Well if that's the case then it wouldn't surprise me if they know of each other, or maybe they are one-in-the-same." He then turned back around and led me back inside, "I will journey personally in the morning to the Norns and ask them of you."
I immediately shook my head, "Nay milord, I should be the one to do so. If they are so like the Fates then they won't tell you the fate of another without great price."
Odin shrugged, "And I am willing to pay it for thee. As much as thy would like to, you can't make the journey, and even if you could the Norns may ask of you something you can't give."
I quickly turned to fully face the Lord of Asgard and bowed my head, "I beg you milord, do not pay the price for a stranger who you have know less than a day. I will pay what the Norns ask, they won't demand something that will bare me from returning."
Odin raised a brow, "And what if they ask thee for thy arm, leg, or even Godliness. They very well might have the power to do so."
I stepped in front of Odin and stared him in the eye, "If that is what it takes then will give it without hesitation. My father, Heracles, Jason, and Atalanta most likely have no idea where I disappeared to. So if I must give up my Godly blood to return then I will pay it." I pointed out across the city, "I will NEVER let my hosts and friends pay a price I am not willing to pay, I wouldn't be able to live with the guilt."
Odin stared down at me in deep thought. After a few seconds he nodded, "Very well, a journey will begin tomorrow at dawn." He banged his spear against the floor and immediately a female servant appeared from behind a curtained doorway, "Take our guest to his lodgings for the night, care for his needs and prepare provision for a journey on the morrow."
The servant curtsied gracefully, "Of course my Lord, I will take him at once." She then smiled sweetly at me, "Come milord, I will show thee that way."
I bowed my head, "I thank you," then turning to Odin, "and I can't thank you enough Lord Odin for your hospitality to a stranger. Never before have I heard of Lords dining with strange travelers and showing such comradery. I shall never forget this night for as long as I live."
He nodded his head, "And I speak for every man and woman who was with us tonight. We thank thee for showing not only respect, but the fire that burns with thy soul. Never let it dim and forever feed it." With that Odin and I walked in separate directions, but in doing so I didn't see the look of resignation on his face as he disappeared around the corner.
The following morning I awoke at what I thought was dawn, to the sound of knocking on my door. I sat up and stretched, reveling in the feeling of getting a full night sleep in an actual bed and without armor. As much as I love my gift from my father, it isn't the most comfortable thing to sleep in, which is something I do often due to my profession. Clad in a soft gray shirt and silk black pants, I was more comfortable than I had ever felt in my life.
As I finished working any kinks out of my neck and back I called out, "The door is unlocked."
The door opened to show the woman from the previous night who showed me to the my room and brought me the clothes I was currently wearing. In her arms was my armor, newly washed and repaired of any damage. She set the armor down on a table near the door, "I have been told by Lord Odin to bring you to the courtyard for the morning meal."
I bowed my head in thanks, "Thank you, I will get dressed and be out shortly." Receiving a nod, I stripped of my clothes and donned my armor. Leaving the mask and hood down and gauntlets in my pack, I stepped out of my room and followed the servant to an outdoor garden with a table set up were all the Gods were currently eating and conversing.
Seeing me enter, Freya waved in greeting, "Morning Dusk, how did thy sleep?"
I chuckled, "Never before had I been so comfortable, thank you."
She smiled, "That is good to hear" She then motioned at the empty seat next to her, "Please come sit and eat while we wait for Odin."
Confused, I looked at each seat around the entire and found that the Lord of Asgard was indeed missing, "Where is he?"
All but Frigga shrugged, "We do not know, he hasn't been seen for many hours but left a message saying he would return before the morning meal was over."
I began to get an uneasy feeling as to what Odin had done but sat down regardless. Over the next hour we ate and talked about anything that came to mind. Topics ranging from my home, to Asgard, to our favorite pastimes. While Loki was telling a, "rhetorical story" as he put it, about two lovers he pranked once, all the while Sif and Thor were blushing crimson, we heard footsteps approaching the garden. All turning, we see a tired Odin come in a sit down next to Frigga.
They whispered to each other for a few seconds before Odin turned to me with a smile, "How was your night Dusk?"
I nodded, still suspicious of what the God Of Wisdom had been up to, "It went better than any I've had before." I then had an inkling as to where he had disappeared to, "At what time will we set out, I thought we were to leave at dawn?"
Odin pretended to look confused, "Whatever does thy mean? I never said thee would go with me."
I stared dumbly at him, "What do you mean? You said we would set out at dawn."
Odin shook his head, "Nay, I said, 'a journey will begin tomorrow at dawn'. Never did I saw we."
I began to worry, "Milord! I said I could never allow friends to pay something I was not willing to!"
Odin nodded his head, "Yes, and thy kept your word. You didn't allow me to do anything."
"What did they demand." I said.
Odin shrugged dismissively, "They didn't ask for anything that will matter in the long run. It's as thy said, old beings get bored. Apparently they just plucked a soul from another plane and threw it into ours for amusement. Thou did say things like that happen."
I stared at him skeptically, "Yes, but in my experience the Fates never give without taking something."
"In your experience yes, but the Norns are not the Fates, similar they may be. Plus I expect that we Aesir are on better terms with the Norns than your Gods are with the Fates." Odin stood up and held his arms wide, "Does thou see anything missing that wasn't here before?" His expression became one of stone as he then pointed at the sky, "Does thou see fire raining from the sky."
I bowed, "I meant no disrespect milord."
Odin expression softened, "I know thee didn't and I am not upset." He then looked up at the sky, "When the sun breaks the horizon, thou will return home." Standing tall, he addressed me not as a mortal, not as a half-blood, but as a God, "Thy has proven to be honorable and kindhearted, fully willing to give whatever it took to get home so I would not have to. But it is for that very reason that I was willing to risk myself for thee. As I told thee last night, thy has a fire burning within thy soul, and it is that fire that lights the way in your dark life."
Thor laughed, "AYE, AND IT SLAYS GIANTS AS WELL!" His mood then became somber, but somehow happy at the same time, "Even though we have known each other only for a short time, I will miss thee as a friend."
Sif bowed her head in goodbye, "We all shall. Thou hast taught us much and we shall never forget thee."
Balder clapped me on the shoulder, "You shall forever, till the end of our days and beyond, be in our merry songs when we feast."
Loki rolled his eyes with a smirk, "Thou gave me some laughs, so I guess I am annoyed at your leaving." He then looked me straight in the eye, "Steal well young, honorable, thief." He said made sure to emphasize honorable.
Tyr saluted me with his one good arm, "Thou fights well, I can tell. Continue to hone thy skills and they will serve you eternal.
Freya smiled softly as she put a wrapping of black cloth in my hands, "It has been said but many times we cannot say it enough. We Aesir are not used to losing friends so I will say it again. We shall miss you dearly Dusk. Fight bravely, live happily, keep those thy holds dear close to thy heart and never lose sight of what is important."
With those final words the morning sun broke the garden and cast the light into my eyes. As the light swirled around me I caught one last sight of the Aesir. Odin standing proud and resolute next to a waving Frigga. Thor and Tyr raising their hammer and sword in my honor. Sif's golden hair framing her face as she waves goodbye. Loki's ever so slight bow of head. Balder and Nanna's teary-eyed waves. And finally Freya's angelic face as she smiled, happy that I was returning home, but sad to lose a friend.
With a final bow, I closed my eyes as I disappeared in a flash of light, never to rest eyes on Asgard again. Once the light had faded, the Aesir departed in one's or two's until it was just Odin, Balder, Thor, and Freya left staring at the spot where I had stood. As Odin let out a heavy sigh Freya voiced her thoughts, "What did the Norns really ask for milord?"
Odin remained silent for several seconds, "We hasten our fate to Ragnarok by a full year."
Instead of being upset at their shortened lives, Freya nodded, "A fair trade."
Balder shrugged, "Tiss our fate, a year sooner or a hundred later will make no difference."
Thor raised his hammer to the sky with a maniacal grin, "Even though we are destined to die that fateful day, this now means I get to face my enemies sooner, AND I PLAN TO TAKE THEM ALL WITH ME TO VALHALLA!"
Odin nodded his head, "It is as thou said Balder, our time left does not matter. Our fate is sealed and we can do naught to fight it. There is no reason for young Dusk to die with us when he has people waiting for him. We shall live the rest of our lives happily and die honorably when the day of reckoning comes."
Freya, Balder, and Thor all smiled, happy that their friend was free from their fate and was able to fulfill his own. With a final look at the spot where their young thief had stood, they all went their separate ways. Thus silence fell over all of Asgard. Heimdall stood, forever watchful over his charge. Balder and Nanna went from person to person within the city offering help. Thor charging off to find another giant to fight. Loki sneaking around causing harmless mayhem. Freya humming to herself as she tended a garden. Frigga tending to a festival she was planning. And lastly, Odin sat within his lordly throne, standing guard over his people and waited for the deep cry of Gjallarhorn to signal the beginning of their destined end.
As I bowed the light surrounded me completely and I felt myself moving at speeds never before reached. But as suddenly as it started, everything came to standstill. Keeping my eyes closed, I straightened out and took a deep breath. Inhaling the crisp air through my nose, I could feel the chaotic energy in the air. The foreboding danger reverberating throughout the ground…and I can feel that danger quickly approaching. Feeling a smile split my face, I didn't move as the sound of light footfalls grew nearer and nearer. When they were very close they suddenly disappeared only for me to feel them knock me on my back with a thud.
Hearing the sound of a string becoming strained, I opened my eyes to find a very pissed Atalanta holding a notched arrow to my throat. Scowling, the huntress tapped my chest with the arrow and spoke coldly, "You better have a damn good reason to suddenly vanish without a trace only to reappear a week later."
An eyebrow rose as I stared at her with a smirk before glancing over her shoulder to find a half concerned, half amused Heracles standing behind her. Unknown to either of them, standing behind Heracles stood my father looking just as amused as I felt. With a lazy two-fingered salute, he disappeared without a trace.
My eyes now glued to the arrow embedded in the ground not half an inch from my head, my attention had shifted from my father and Heracles. Now it was solely on the dangerously beautiful woman notching another arrow in her bow, "I have all day Dusk," she pressed the arrowhead against my chest, "you on the other hand do not. UNLESS you give me a good reason to get off you."
I looked down to find the black package Freya had given me had unraveled to reveal a cloak not unlike my own, but on the back was a white depiction of Yggdrasil, the Aesir's world. Unable to hold it back, a chuckle escaped my lips before the dam broke and a constant stream of laughter escaped me.
Needless to say Heracles had to quickly grab Atalanta and pull her off of me before she could throttle me to death, "LET GO OF ME YOU BRUTE AND LET ME TEACH THAT EXCUSE OF A THIEF A LESSON FOR MAKING US WORRY!"
Heracles shook his head smirking, "Nay, I can't do that Lanta, you'll kill our friend."
"THAT'S THE IDEA!" She yelled out kicking.
All the while I continued to laugh. Oh, it was good to be home…
Thank you all for reading my story and I hope you enjoyed this chapter, it was by far my the most fun to write. While Norse mythology was interesting, Norse was my favorite part of the class. In case some of you are confused about the hospitality of the Norse Gods then let me explain.
In my studies, the Norse gods are much more honor-bound and hospitable than their Greek counterparts. So it was a lot of fun to write about someone who's so used to the harshness of the Greek gods be thrown in with the Aesir.
One more side note. I based Asgard off the Marvel version because it looks absolutely beautiful.
So once again, thank-you for reading and I hope you enjoyed my story :) …
…Archangel Signing Out